What is it:
Who doesn't enjoy the odd drink? We certainly enjoy the odd glass or two (or three, or four) but after a night of 'one more glass'drinks you may not actually be legal to drive the next morning. Also, with the Christmas period upcoming most of us will find ourselves having a pint or two so we can still drive home. Again, every person's body is different and breaks down the alcohol at different speeds.
On average it takes around 1 hours for each unit of alcohol plus an extra hour for the first drink to get into your bloodstream - that means that if you had 4 pints of premium larger that could still be in your system for 12 hours after drinking. Change that for 4 glasses of wine and you could be talking 16+ hours.
We would like to think that no one would knowingly drive over the legal limit and we certainly wouldn't, so when we got the opportunity to test out AlcoSense's Excel Digital Breathalyser we were excited to give it a whirl.
First of all, a bit of background on AlcoSense - they launched back in in 2007 after 2 years of research and development, they have since won many awards for their products and now have a range of breathalyser products available.
The Excel Digital Breathalyser is a mid-range breathalyser from AlcoSense but we were keen to test this one out as it uses the same Fuel Cell Sensor as Police breathalysers albeit a slightly smaller 64mm2 version, which makes it twice as accurate as it's smaller versions. One interesting feature we read about on this version was that it used clever software to ensure it doesn't under-read results within the tolerances, meaning it's edging on the safe side to make sure you don't get any nasty surprised. Good thinking!
It comes nicely packaged and contains the digital hand-sized device, batteries, mouthpieces, manual and a USB cable. We would have liked to see a pouch in there also for safe keeping when not in use but this is something AlcoSense offer for an extra £13.
It features a 48mm screen which gives you clear instructions on how to setup and use the breathalyser along with bright colour coded results (red is you shouldn't be driving). The results are easy to understand and also keeps a record of previous readings.
When setting up the breathalyser you specify the limit that you would like to set - so this device could be taken with you wherever you go even to another country. For example, until recently, in France it was law that you are required to carry an unused breathalyser in the car with you at all times - this has now been scrapped as it was deemed confusing, however, it's still a good idea to carry one.
All breathalysers require yearly re-calibration (even Police breathalysers) so you will receive a warning when this is required. We believe this warning starts at around 11 months since the last calibration. AlcoSense offer this service also and at time of writing costs £22.99.
To actually perform a breath test, just fit the supplied blow tube into the recess that is illuminated during use, take a deep breath then steadily exhale for around 8 seconds. You still receive an error message if you didn't exhale for long enough. You still then be presented with the result. Simple. While performing the test in the background the device is measuring the amount of air that is flowing through the device - why is this important you ask? To get accurate measurements the device must take the reading from air deep in your lungs, to get this you need to expel around 1 litre of air before the reading is taken - the Excel Breathalyser measures this exactly however rival products simply estimate this based on time which can be different depending on how hard you are blowing, meaning they could be inaccurate readings. Another smart feature!
At time of writing the AlcoSense Excel Breathalyser costs £99 and can be purchased directly from AlcoSense.
How we tested it:
We tested the device out over a period of a few weeks under a number of different situations, including having a couple of drinks at night and testing shortly after, and also having a few more drinks and doing a 'morning after'test.
We Didn't Like:
I think common sense should prevail in most cases, if you've had more than a couple at lunch time or the morning after heavy night drinking you shouldn't be driving. However, with the ability to peace of mind that you are under the legal drink drive limit then it's a superb device. If you consider the penalties for drink driving (up to £2,500, possible 3 months imprisonment, possible driving ban, increase in insurance after a ban, potentially losing your job) then £99 really is a drop in the ocean if you find yourself drinking often. Even more important if you driving for a living such as a taxi driver or a delivery driver. Overall, we would certainly suggest having one of these at your disposal.